My flight from Mumbai this time, was literally at the crack of dawn, I flew with the Sun, chasing the night light away and soaking in the red, pink and orange streaks of the breaking dawn that mixed in an ethereal way with the diluted blues of the midnight. By the time I landed in Kochi, it was reasonably early, at least by my standards that dub morning as any time after 9. That's why as I sleep-walked into the restroom at the Kochi airport, the first smell of familiarity that assailed me also woke me up.
These days, the sanitised confines of dad's AC sedan means that there are few outdoor smells that percolate in. There used to be a time when the trip from the airport to home would be liberally sprinkled with generous gulps of breath sucked in to retain the aroma as we pass by bakeries..now unlike in other cities, bakeries are not really places where they bake stuff, but they merely sell baked stuff and confectioneries made elsewhere. But a few of the bigger, older ones have huge vats of coconut oil constantly on the boil just outside the shop, into which practised hands expertly slice in raw bananas before scooping out those yummy banana chips. Our noses are by now habituated to smelling out fresh oil and stale chips. It is an art and once you perfect it, your reputation back in the city you live in is guaranteed to soar among friends. For, they often grudginly allow you to take a break on the condition that giant parcels of banana chips return with you...Well-made chips are little crisps of divinity...and damn the cholesterol scare or the calories menace..
Banana chips, apart, there is the smell of tapioca frying or jackfruit frying. The Malayalis reading this would by now be drooling. The smell is inexplicably nostalgia invoking..and then the craving can only be satiated by biting into a crisp chip. While I'm no fan of the smell of a thoroughly marinated piece of fish or meat crispening in hot curry-leaves tempered oil, I'd be a bad commentator of the smells of home, if I don't make a mention of it.
Hmmm, talking of food, have you smelt mangoes ripening? April the season for sultry heat and the smell of mangoes ripening in the air..This year, Dad has lovingly nurtured little bundles of nectar in our garden. He talks to them, coaxes them to grow healthy, battling pests that are keen to make merry and leave us shortchanged.. I think the assault on the senses, especially that of smell cannot be a single post..But I'd love to leave you with another secret joy...
Sometimes, it takes distance to make the heart grow fonder...Sometimes, it takes a gentle trip down the memory lanes of smell to recapture lost moments of childhood..
(P:S All the photographs are mine and I don't think stealing is a good idea..though if you want to use it, credit it..:)